On the occasion of the national holiday of the Republic of Austria /26 October/ and the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and Bulgaria H. E. Mrs. Andrea Wicke,

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the country to Bulgaria, and her husband, Mr. Ventsislav Wicke-Dermendjiev, gave a reception at their residence. The event, which took place on October 24, was attended by hundreds of guests who have been connected to or contributed to the traditionally good relations between our two countries.

Austria-Hungary is the second great power after Russia to appoint a diplomatic agent and Consul general in the Principality of Bulgaria on June 27, 1879, thus contributing significantly to the statehood and internal stability of Bulgaria.

That was emphasised by H. E. Andrea Wicke in her welcoming speech to the guests:

As you know, along with 12 other countries, Austria and Bulgaria celebrate the 140 th anniversary of their diplomatic relations.

After the conclusion of the treaty of Berlin and the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria, the imperial court in Vienna immediately decided to send a diplomatic agent and Consul general to Sofia. Emperor Franz Josef appointed Count Khevenhüller-Metsch as the second international representative to Bulgaria.

Austria-Hungary being the closest of the major European powers to Bulgaria, a rich tradition of cooperation evolved in the fields of politics, economics, science, art and culture. This is especially evident in the architectural testimonies built by Austrian architects in Sofia and other cities in Bulgaria. Many architects and artists came to Bulgaria to help to build and embellish the new capital Sofia. Together with Bulgarian architects, they subsequently transformed Sofia from a small city with an oriental flair and 11,000 inhabitants into a modern capital until the outbreak of the First World War.

Back in the present days, bilateral relations are still excellent at all levels. Politically, Bulgaria and Austria are closely linked, also as members of the European Union. This was particularly obvious last year during the successive presidencies of the EU of Bulgaria and Austria. The co-operation worked well, not only from an organizational point of view, but also in the sphere of the priorities like the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union. In spite of the recent setback, Austria and Bulgaria will continue to work on promoting this integration.

Another commonality of Bulgarian and Austrian foreign policy is the importance of the rule-based international order and the commitment to an effective multilateral system. In this context, I would like to draw attention to another important anniversary this year:  50 years ago, on 22 May 1969, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties was adopted, an international treaty that is very important for the rule-based global order.

Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, economic relations have also gained momentum. Today, the bilateral trade volume exceeds 1.2 billion euros. Over 350 Austrian companies are active here. Many of those are not only serving Bulgarian customers, they see themselves as part of the Bulgarian society and are actively engaging in shaping the economic life and infrastructure. What can be seen the successful project of the dual education system between the Bulgarian State, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce and a couple of Austrian Companies, together with Switzerland and Germany. They aim to tackle one of the problems prevailing in the economic sphere in Bulgaria, namely the shortage of skilled workers.

Relations in the cultural and scientific fields have not lost in liveliness since the beginning when Austrian architects came to Sofia and books in Bulgarian language were published and printed in Austria. Numerous artistic events related to Austria take place every year in Bulgaria.. In the framework of the European Capital of Culture project Plovdiv 2019 the Austrian project FLUCA -cultural pavilion did exactly that in dozens of events over the last six months.

H. E. Mrs. Andrea Wicke also thanked all the companies that sponsored the event, which was really high quality. The Austrian specialties were accompanied by fine wines. A special vegan cake was served to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Austria and Bulgaria. And the live music performances created an atmosphere of shared with friends joy. All the guests left with small "chocolate" gifts.

Photos: the Embassy of the Republic of Austria in the Republic of Bulgaria